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Walmart Connect Introduces Display Self-Service (DSS) Platform
Display for retail media has traditionally involved managed service buys, or media bought by the vendors via an agreement made between the vendor and the client specific to audiences, placements, cost-per-impression, etc. To buy display placements on a retailer site, an advertiser was required to go through this route.

Historically, retail media digital direct buys have been categorized as nothing short of cumbersome. The lengthy lead times, high budget minimums ($500k in certain cases), delayed, and less-than-timely reporting have all left a bad taste in advertisers’ mouths. It’s no longer considered a “win” to simply run digital via a retailer. The novelty has worn off.

A Required Investment

Often, these digital engagements are run – at least in part – to fulfill a contractual obligation with the retailer. To remain in good standing overall, the advertiser/seller is required to drive a certain minimum dollar amount through the retailer’s media platforms (either via managed or self-service). Advertisers to date have been clamoring for more than just access to first party, transactional data. If they’re obligated to spend, they want more control. As a result, the platforms are doing their best to accommodate.

Retailers know they’re at a tipping point. They want sellers/advertisers that view themselves as partners, not prisoners. If sellers/advertisers simply hit that minimum required threshold for advertising spend then move on, it’s not a tenable, long-term relationship.

Retailers need to provide retail media networks that a) make doing business easier while b) proving out true return from the investment. Walmart Connect’s understanding of this need for profitable, self-service offerings has been reflected in their most recent quarterly earnings.

Display Self-Service

Digital direct buying has historically been a managed service task – the buyer plans, the vendor executes. The mere notion of “Self-Service Digital” is almost an oxymoron. However, now everyone is looking for ways to do things more efficiently. Waiting several weeks for creative to be produced doesn’t lend itself to the idea of efficiency.

Enter Walmart Connect’s Display Self-Service (DSS) platform. A do-it-yourself interface designed to help digital marketers get on-site Walmart Connect display buys up and running at warp speed. The platform is accessible via Walmart Ad Center – the same path used for self-service sponsored products (search).

It enables manual setup for campaigns, line items, audiences, creative, tracking, along with the following advantages:

  • 72-hour creative verification process, as opposed to 6-8 weeks
  • 10 days for brand audience (behavioral) audience approval
  • No campaign spending minimum – only a 1k impression per line-item minimum

It has all the pieces necessary to launch a campaign of any size in short order, without relying on a vendor-side team.

A Shift Towards Self-Service

This type of platform represents a sea change for digital buyers who are very used to planning and then handing the results off. They deal with a plethora of setup-related tasks that require a check off prior to a campaign launching. Once it launches, they rely on vendor reps for updates, optimizations, reporting, etc.

This new landscape incorporates more of a programmatic approach to buying – one that brings the self-service angle to an on-site, digital buy. Programmatic buyers – search, social, display, audio, streaming – are used to building from the ground up. They were raised in interfaces, molding campaigns from inception to conclusion. Many digital buyers will have to acclimate themselves to this type of approach – specifically, the task of building campaigns manually.

Once the technology and features available in platforms like Walmart Connect’s DSS tool are on-par with a managed service offering, self-service will become the mode of choice. Who owns that buying path will vary by advertiser. The likely owner will be a hybrid programmatic/digital buyer with experience in a) building via self-service and b) planning managed buys through a vendor.

The shift towards self-service represents an exciting time. One that can remove the limitations normally associated with managed service buys. It can also provide those willing to take on such platforms a chance to become less reliant on outside planners and buyers, making their in-house offering even stronger.